IS it ok for Noel to stay?” Emma asks. The young Australian sonographer finishes washing her hands and turns towards us, drying her hands. “Yes, if you wish. I mean, sometimes, if there’s anything we need to talk about...” Emma looks anxiously at me.
“Look, I’m sure it’ll be fine Mrs. Cashman.”
“Please, call me Emma.”
“Sorry, Emma. So, shall we?”
As Emma lies back, loosens her skirt and raises her blouse, exposing her belly, and as the sonographer applies lubricating jelly, I explain what’s going on to Noel. “And in a minute we’ll see your baby twins on television.”
“Will I be able to talk to them?” asks Noel. I smile and ruffle his hair. Emma takes Noel’s hand. “Not just yet darling” says Emma. “But soon and they’ll love you so much. Just like daddy and I do.” I am moved. These are miraculous times.
The sonographer rolls the probe over Emma’s gorgeous belly. Images on the screen heave woozily in and out of focus. I look from the monitor to Noel. He is transfixed. I wonder how he will cope with the impending upheaval.
“I…” the sonographer begins, hesitantly. “I wonder if we could have a word, Emma.”
“Why? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Mr. Cashman, would you and Noel mind stepping outside for a moment?”
Without protest or question I find myself in the corridor, grasping Noel’s hand. “Daddy what is it? Is mummy alright?”
“Yes, of course darling,” I answer blankly.
I keep glancing at my watch. After eight-and-a-half minutes the consulting room door opens. Emma steps out, a hand trembling on her belly. The sonographer closes the door behind her. I feel Noel looking up at me but my gaze is fixed on Emma. I can see that Emma has been crying.
To be continued next Tuesday. For previous City Dad episodes, go to www.cityam.com.